Your Dog Is Telling You…

Ever wondered how to really connect with your dog in the way you interact with them?

They are telling you right now!! Dogs tell us time and time again exactly how to train them and achieve our goals with them – as a team! It’s all in observing them and then taking it a step further and learning about their personalities from those observations and implementing right now in your training.

They are telling you all the time so don’t miss out on their dog training gold!!

In this weeks blog I will be sharing with you what to look out for so that you don’t miss a thing when it come to how to reinforce your dog.

  • Holly

    Tom – feel like you blog was recorded for me. My dog is exactly as you describe. I have had difficulty harnessing the things he finds most reinforcing (chasing rabbits, playing with other dogs – we only have the one dog and no easy access to other appropriate playmates, and running free to sniff and pee). We are in the city so hard to put access to those things on cue and not really safe to let him off leash. Have used tug toys to simulate chase and that is probably about a 5 out of 10. Chasing me is maybe a 3. Food is maybe a 5 as well. I think what you are saying is exactly what I need to focus on – just struggle with how to use the things he finds most reinforcing.

  • Tom Mitchell

    Hey Holly! Thank you for getting in touch!

    I completely understand your struggles – it’s something we see and help people through a lot.

    The key is that building impulse control around the things we can control that get our dogs excited and using access to the environment as a reward when safe, helps build an understanding for the whole world so that we never have to train in difficult situations.

    Would love to help you on this so keep us updated!

  • Anthea Rocker

    Just loving these blogs. I worked on this with Bob – he finds running through the undergrowth and sniffing very reinforcing when out on walks and I find it reinforcing because he is such fun to watch when he does this. However, he comes back when I call because I often called him, rewarded – sometimes with food, sometimes with praise and a quick chase then sent him off again. This really has paid off because, for example, yesterday there were horses with riders and also cyclists. Both times I called Bob and Barry to me and they came and waited with me for the horses and/or bikes to pass. Dylan, my old dog, on the other hand, just stood away and watched. I know Dylan won’t chase horses or bikes, but I called him and he didn’t come – what a difference things I have learned has made.

  • Holgachick

    Hi Tom, my pointer Dexter, is one of those super-trainable dogs that you describe. He’s so keen to perform – he’s focussed and loves to work (especially agility). Though when we’re out, he’s a totally different dog and his attention is generally elsewhere. We live right on the edge of woodland which is full of deer, pheasants, hare, etc, all of which Dexter loves to chase (if given half a chance). I have to work really hard when we’re out to keep him engaged by giving him things to do, otherwise he’ll be off doing his own thing. He’s very high prey drive so throwing food for him, laying cheese trails and sending him racing back to find them are all good games. However, there’s absolutely no way that cheese or me can trump a deer.

  • Michelle Gagne

    My terrier loves her squeaky toys and is a super star in agility class when toys are continually used for reinforcement which keeps her focused on the game and not the environment. When trialing when I can’t have the toys on me or thrown at the end of the run, the environment becomes more reinforcing and I lose her.

  • Judi Stellmach

    Wow, great log. Really helps me focus in on my young dog. His list is 1 frisbee 2 chasing his sister 3 any food at all 4dog poop (yuck) Want to try more toy rewards, have to figure out how to get movement into static exercises. THANKS

  • Michelle Gagne

    My mix breed dog loves to be with me, so that is reinforcing in itself although she is also food motivated as well. I am struggling though to speed her up during agility as her reinforcements do not get her really excited. I have tried a toy with a treat in it and that helps a little but need to find something that will encourage her to really speed up.

  • Sue Verbocy

    I have two male Vizslas, one 6 years and one that just turned 2. Blaze my older one loves to retrieve anything but prefers balls. He likes to tug as well but if a ball is present, I have a hard time getting him to take food. Zest is fairly balanced between food and toys, but tug is his thing. They are both very focused in the ring and I think it’s because I pretty much learned with my very first Vizsla that foundation skills and games are key to a successful agility career. The baby is still working out some ring issues that arose after a leash runner came up on him and kind of scared him. We are working through that issue but it has shown up in his weave pole performance. And sometimes if he’s starting a course with his back to the agility equipment. Working on getting the same speed and drive in the ring that I do in practice.

  • Barbie Nolan

    chicken and sausage!

  • Trudy

    Hi Tom, new to AbsoluteDogs and LOVING IT! I have an ESS who has a mild form of Canine Compulsive Disorder. She will literally spend hours chasing anything that moves in the wind (leaves, dust, bits of grass). She’s so difficult to train because she is so easily distracted and there’s not a lot of help here on the Isle of Wight. We started doing agility because she was never going to make the grade as a working dog so I already use several methods that you suggest but can certainly ramp that up – we can and shall do better! Looking forward to training later today already.

  • Cathy Withall

    This describes my dog exactly – chasing deer, rabbits, squirrels – pretty much anything that moves in fact! We have made progress, we can now let her run off lead on the beach and recall her from other dogs, having found that she loves chasing a squeaky tennis ball. Using a whistle if she does take off towards another dog, we can whistle and she will turn back towards us and is immediately rewarded with the ball being thrown.

    At agility she is really good in training when there are fewer distractions, but I am slowly building a bond with her which has meant that she is starting to feel that doing agility WITH me (instead of zooming round on her own) is actually more fun! But her easy reinforcement does indeed mean that when she chooses to focus on me, she’s fast and loves it 🙂 What you’ve said makes a lot of sense, and at least with a dog that loves to run, I never have to worry about building drive 😉

  • Tom Mitchell

    Love this positivity, Cathy! It’s a nice feeling to know that distracted dogs are just super trainable and all we have to do is harness that!

  • Tom Mitchell

    Love the enthusiasm, Trudy!!! So glad you found us!!!

  • Tom Mitchell

    Games and foundation are definitely the way! 🙂

  • Tom Mitchell

    Thanks, Judi!! Sounds like you have some creative dogs when it comes to reinforcement!! 😀

  • Tom Mitchell

    Have you thought about physical play as a reward, Michelle? Games like running away from her as a game of chase and tapping her sides?

  • Tom Mitchell

    Yay Dexter!! You are making awesome progress!!

  • Tom Mitchell

    The element of surprise and capturing the head space that you want and rewarding that with the super exciting reinforcer will help a lot in this situation 🙂

  • Tom Mitchell

    Thanks, Anthea! Love your progress!

  • Ronna Roberts

    My Min Pins are reinforced by lots of things, too…chasing, digging, food, and BARKING. I would REALLY love to eliminate the barking and redirect that value!

  • Tom Mitchell

    It’s so so possible, Ronna, with the right tools!! 🙂

  • Stacey Murray

    I have a 3 year old working springer spaniel who is fantastic at training who is doing a agility but when it comes to shows he finds it a little overwhelming he lacks confidence he has improved but will go off and sniff in the ring or go out the ring and wee and then come back in how can I build up focus on me and confidence
    Many thanks Stacey

  • Anna

    You are exactly describing my dog! She is not really that interested in food for reinforcers but as you mentioned would spend all day sniffing, chasing rabbits, chasing around with other dogs, and you have given me hope that she is trainable! She loves to play hide and seek with food, so if I hide it around the living room she will sniff it out, or I throw food around she will try pounce on it (I think she makes a good goal keeper)
    However I think her favourite thing is splashes in the water – so for example, we have a little paddling pool, if we throw a ball or toy in to the water and it splashes up she will retrieve it out (then we have to play chase around the garden for a while), throwing a ball without the water not interested.. how do we incorporate this in to training…